The Last Five Years graphic

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual to present modern twist on marriage in “The Last Five Years”

The Penn State Centre Stage Virtual will present “The Last Five Years,” a musical sharing a modern twist on marriage, at 7:30 p.m. April 22-25, at showtix4you.

The musical was written by Jason Robert Brown and is directed and choreographed by Jennifer Delac with assistant director Mia Montero. Jordon Cunningham serves as musical director.

“’The Last Five Years’ is the story of a couple—one’s a novelist and one’s an actress—and they are at the end of their five-year relationship,” Delac said. “This story has them looking back at memories of the last five years.”

The story is told from two distinct points of view, with the husband telling it in chronological order and the wife telling it in reverse chronological order. Jake Pederson and Becca Suskauer play the married couple.

In a time where COVID-19 has taken away many opportunities for theater, Delac’s team is breaking through technological boundaries to share a heartbreakingly emotional perspective on modern marriage.

My team has been the best part about this process; it has taken so much pivoting and an insane amount of collaboration,” Delac said.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes throughout this process and every single time I brought an issue to my team, we were able to work together to solve everything that’s come our way.”

The Penn State theatre students on Delac’s team were crucial in the unveiling of this production, including dramaturg Arushi Grover and scenic designer Rozy Isquith, as well as lighting designer Helena Dougherty, costume designer Alyssa Ridder, sound designer Emily Smith, and projection designer Bea Chung.

Although there are only two actors, they still have to take extra precautions to maintain social distancing. To ensure their safety, throughout the entire play the actors must refrain from touching anything around them or exchanging props. As scenic designer, Isquith has created a space where actors can project a feeling of being physically close despite maintaining six feet of distance.

“It’s a show with only two people in it, where we were trying to operate with radiuses so performers can perform opposite one another while still giving space,” Isquith said. “It’s exciting to be able to work with my friends in this kind of theatrical puzzle.”

As dramaturg, Grover’s job is to make sure the actors fully understand the ins and outs of the script, and that they can portray the emotions required of the play despite wearing face masks.

“It’s been a very unique product that’s grown out of strict guidelines,” Grover said. “While it is a minimalistic production design-wise, we’ve found such wonderful inspiration behind it.”

Story by Madison Ridge